Pages from my sketchbook

I recently visited the Museum of Fine Arts Houston in an event organized by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art Texas chapter, of which I am a member.  The members of the Institute are not only architects, but artists, designers, builders, and art lovers, and one thing many of us have in common is our ability to create art; with this thought in mind, we were invited to spend an evening drawing in the galleries of the museum, learning from the beautiful works, and trading tips and drawing techniques with one another.  Here are some of the sketches I produced:
"Diana", ink on Amalfi paper.
"Caracalla" pencil on Amalfi paper.
I enjoyed doing this next  sketch the most because it proved to be a great challenge.  I have included a photo of the original for comparison:
Pencil on Amalfi paper.


Heights Living: White Hot

White Linen Nights in The Heights, 2012.
It was white hot indeed on August 4th 2012, when The Heights neighborhood of Houston (where I live) hosted their annual end of summer festival "White Linen Nights".  Every shop, restaurant, and art gallery opened their doors and offered refreshments and entertainment to what seemed like the whole city!  Each year, the White Linen Nights festival lets me discover a new feature of my neighborhood, and this year was no different:
The old Georgian Sunday School near my house (built in the late 1890's)  had stood neglected and decaying for years, but in recent weeks the building had seen a lot of work and renovation.  On the days leading up to the festival, white banners were hung on the facade, signifying that the building would be open for visitors.  I was excited to see what new venture had been installed in the old school house, and happy that the old building had been given a second chance at life:
Nizza Mosaic Studio in The Houston Heights.
While the upper floors still function as a Sunday School, the bottom floor turned out to be a Mosaic studio and gallery; its owner and director Roxana Nizza was very kind to show me around and talk to me about her beautiful work.  Roxana comes from an artistic family, and has been creating mosaics since 1995; her new gallery functions as a working studio and showcases her work and the work of several local artists, and offers classes for all levels of mosaic students.
A Medieval hunting scene is slowly developing on Roxana's table.

Work in progress on Roxana's table.

Roxana Nizza, owner of Nizza Mosaic Studio, stands next an artists conceptual sketch for her current mosaic project.

We bid good bye to Roxana and her artistic friends, and walked out into the night.  The usually quiet streets were now bustling with thousands of Houstonians, joyfully celebrating in the sultry summer air.

The scene on White Oak Drive.

Birds of a Feather *Update No. 3*

You may remember some months ago I was commissioned to create a drawing base for a mosaic in a residential project. Recently I received this image from the mosaic shop with a detail of one of the pheasants.  I'll post more images as the work progresses.

Pheasant detail.



La Giralda

La Giralda Tower seen from the Patio de los Naranjos of the Cathedral of Santa María in Sevilla, Spain.

I am currently designing a residence in the Spanish Revival style, and as I move through the creative process I have drawn inspiration from my own experience living in a traditional courtyard house in Nicaragua, and more importantly, I keep going back to the source through my travels to Spain, which have provided me with a wealth of photographic and drawing materials from which to get inspired. And then I realized that in all the excitement and time constraints that accompany a new project, I forgot to report, here on the blog, my latest trip to Sevilla; this post then is the beginning on a series about this amazing city.

Sevilla's Cathedral seen through the windows of the Giralda.  Sevilla, Spain.

The Giralda is a remnant of the mosque that once stood at the center of the Moorish city of Ishbiliya, it was built from 1184-1196 by the Almohade monarchs as a minaret for the mosque. In 1248 Sevilla was conquered for the Spanish by king Fernando III of Castilla, the Moorish population was expelled from the city and their mosque was reconsecrated as a cathedral. The Mosque was razed in the early 1400's to make way for the new Cathedral de Santa Maria, this time in the Gothic style, but the minaret was spared and turned into a bell tower.

The Giralda bells: industry and antiquity.  Sevilla, Spain.

No visit to Sevilla is complete without a stop at the cathedral and her Giralda, and no journey of mine is ever complete without climbing some sort of mountain or hiking a good 400 steps; this trip was not different, and John and I made our way to the top of the 318 foot tower, which afforded us glorious views of Sevilla in the setting sun:

The Patio de los Naranjos of Sevilla's Cathedral.  The remnant of the Moorish arches of the ancient mosque can be seen on the right.  Sevilla, Spain.

From atop the Giralda we could truly appreciate the intricacy of Sevilla's urban fabric, and peek into the shaded courtyards and hidden gardens:

we could also catch a glimpse of monuments farther afield, and admire their imposing silhouettes in the golden horizon:
The "Plaza de Toros" or Bull Ring of Sevilla, Spain.

Francisco Calatrava's bridge of the Alamillo in Sevilla, Spain.

We stayed in the tower for what felt like hours, but then time seems to be of no consequence in this city.  We finally descended to the plaza and crossed the Patio de los Naranjos towards the streets, and in the twilight La Giralda had turned to gold.

Sevilla through John's eyes. 

"Puerta del Perdón" the Gate of Forgiveness, in the Patio de los Naranjos of Sevilla's Cathedral.  Sevilla, Spain.

The Giralda of Sevilla, Spain.

All images by Nadia Palacios Lauterbach.


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